Recently it has been shown that mRNA of Iba1 (ionized calcium binding adaptor molecule 1), which was a novel calcium binding protein cDNA-cloned by our group, is specifically expressed in microglia in cultures of rat brain cells [Imai et al. Biophys. Biochem. Res. Commun., 224 (1996) 855-862]. In the present study, immunocytochemical and immunohistochemical examinations demonstrated that Iba1 protein is expressed in microglia alone both in cultured brain cells and in the brain, respectively. In a mixed cell culture of embryonic rat brain, immunocytochemically positive for Iba1 protein were the microglia but it was not detectable in neurons, astroglia, or oligodendroglia. Immunohistochemical staining of adult rat brain sections showed Iba1 protein to be specifically localised in ramified microglia. In addition, immunohistochemical staining and immunoblot analysis of activated microglia in the facial nucleus after facial nerve axotomy shows that expression of Iba1 protein was upregulated and peaked at 7 days. These results indicated that localisation of Iba1 protein is restricted to microglia both in vitro and in vivo, and that Iba1 protein plays a role in regulating the function of microglia, especially in the activated microglia.
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